Aaron Curry examines who he thinks Liverpool’s standout performers have been for the 2016/17 Premier League season so far.
I think, for all Liverpool fans the season so far has exceeded expectations. Nobody realistically imagined we’d be heading into an international break with only one loss and one draw, especially with the whole squad firing on all cylinders.
Currently on a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions, and with Manchester United next up, it is looking good for the campaign ahead.
Certain members of the squad have definitely impressed me.
Jordan Henderson – Living up to expectations
The first player I want to mention is the club captain, Jordan Henderson. Last year, the skipper suffered from various injury setbacks which meant he came under huge criticism for his form and overall ability to carry the team. I was one of these people. He has undoubtedly proven everyone wrong.
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Jurgen Klopp has shown faith in Jordan Henderson, and the Englishman has repaid that with his performances on the pitch. A man of the match-winning performance against Chelsea was arguably the turning point for him – a game in which also saw him win the goal of the month award for September. A curling effort, beating Courtois from almost 30 yards.
Along with this, he has controlled the tempo in the middle of the park. Spreading the play left, right and centre, allowing other attacking players with more ‘flare’ the chance to pick opposition defences apart. The former Sunderland midfielder has made the most passes this season(589) and has been a kep part of Liverpool’s patient build up play.
He has contributed with a goal and an assist each this season, but he’s also covered the most ground of anyone in the squad. This is hardly surprising as the man is a workhorse.
He has proven everybody wrong and hopefully he can continue this form which we last saw in 2013/14 season.
Sadio Mane – Paying no heed to expectations
Another player who has silenced his critics, even more so than Henderson, is Senegalese winger Sadio Mane. He arrived at Melwood last June, for an initial fee of £34million (rising to 36 million), making him the most expensive players in the club’s history. Instantly, having this weight on your shoulders would be an excuse for some lacklustre performances, but no, not for Sadio.
In his first 6 Premier League appearances, he has managed 3 goals and 1 assist. Not to mention two stunning performances in the League Cup, albeit against lower league opposition. Gliding past defenders like the aren’t even there and being able to deliver that final pass or shot is something Liverpool have lacked from the wings for a long time.
He has been some fans’ player of the season so far, and it would come as no surprise to see this opinion circulating until we lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the season. Yes, a man can dream!
Roberto Firmino – Constantly exceeding expectations
Finally, the last player I want to mention is probably our most influential, and my personal favourite player in the squad: Roberto ‘Bobby’ Firmino. The back-end of last season, along with the beginning of this one has been the making of the Brazilian all-rounder. Labelled as one of the most versatile players in the squad, probably behind James Milner, Firmino has established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet.
Saying that Bobby has 3 goals in the Premier League alone doesn’t necessarily do his performances justice. His fluid movement and interchangeable positioning with the front three helps to create space and opportunities for his teammates. So, even if his performances aren’t being relayed directly onto paper, fans watching certainly see his talent.
He has always worked well with his Brazilian counterpart Philippe Coutinho, but now he seems to be linking up with almost anyone who walks out alongside him. He now looks to be repaying the hefty price tag which former manager Brendan Rodgers paid for him.
There are also some honourable mentions which need to be addressed. The ever-present Philippe Coutinho has unsurprisingly been a key figure in this season’s amazing start. A sublime free-kick on the opening day was just the beginning of his form.
Another player who has been overlooked is English workhorse James Milner. His experience accumulated over the years was certainly put into practice as he was converted to left back, in order to fill a void left by the infamous Alberto Moreno. Milner is also the designated penalty-kick taker and has dispatched a whopping 4 this season already, maintaining a 100% record.
Essentially, the entire squad is in high spirits after only losing once this season. As mentioned previously, with arch-rivals Manchester United up next on Liverpool’s agenda, what is there to suggest we can’t blow them away with a performance many people will soon come to expect at Anfield?